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Summary:

While the debate over how — or if — consumers will want to manage their home energy consumption makes a lot of headlines, commercial buildings suck up 18 percent of the total energy consumption in the U.S. and represent one of the biggest opportunities for energy […]

While the debate over how — or if — consumers will want to manage their home energy consumption makes a lot of headlines, commercial buildings suck up 18 percent of the total energy consumption in the U.S. and represent one of the biggest opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and carbon reduction. According to Pike Research, the market for energy management systems — stuff like wireless sensor networks, lighting controls, and heating and cooling management in buildings — will turn into a $6.8 billion-a-year market by 2020 and will generate investment of $67.6 billion between 2010 and 2020.

Startups know those metrics pretty well already. Lucid Design Group, for example, has been selling its energy management system for years to the commercial sector, as well as governments and universities. But while the company has always discussed plans to eventually work in the residential market, Lucid Design has yet to make a big push into homes. As Michael Murray, Lucid Design’s CEO, has maintained in conversations with me over the past couple of years, the energy management market for large commercial buildings is much more accessible compared to energy management in homes.

Think about it this way: Lucid can focus on selling its energy management system to companies like Yahoo, which is using the product for its five building offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., where more than 3,000 Yahoo employees work. That’s one deal and a custom job. Or Lucid could work on packaging its software and sensor product into a relatively low-cost (some think it has to be dirt cheap to sell to consumers), probably low-margin box to sell to a market that’s still in a very nascent stage.

Businesses are also often more eager to save money on their lighting and heating/cooling costs than consumers. The return on investment is much higher for a large building that uses a lot of energy than it is for a single family home. In addition, regulations and shareholder demands increasingly require companies to report their carbon footprints, and energy management systems will help them gather and report that data.

That’s not to say that the market for residential homes in the U.S. isn’t attractive — it’s the holy grail for many energy management firms with dreams of turning their brands into a household name. It’s just a lot more difficult.

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By Katie Fehrenbacher

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  1. Interesting that we have worked with Lucid on two projects and getting the software to work properly is a challange. Not sure what why my customers are paying monthly fees for.

    1. Hi EnergyPro — would love if you contact us at Lucid regarding any issues you are having, as we’d love to understand the issues and we’ll work with you to get them resolved. You may be working with a different company, as we do not charge monthly fees. Please call us at 510.907.0400, and we’ll do what we can to help you out. Thanks!

  2. At our University we have the Building Dashboard in the majority of our residential buildings. We’ve had several successful energy competitions that have resulted in significant reductions. Lucid’s technical team were really helpful throughout the whole install process and really seemed proactive in resolving any issues we had.

  3. the employees in my office building who see our lucid dashboard have asked whether they can get it in their homes. but saving energy in a commercial building is where you’ll always get the biggest bang for your buck, this has been said for years, it’s orders of magnitude larger.. even just a small dent in our annual electric bill is good news for me to report to management.

  4. I apologize for the comment both customers went with a Green Touch product using a portal software. I am responsible for connecting the meters to the software and having major issues. Lucid was an option but not the vendor of choice, my mistake.

    I have not worked with Lucid software so do not have any opinion.

  5. Metrus Energy Lands First Contract for PPA-Style Energy Efficiency Friday, February 26, 2010

    [...] reach that market. So would startups like Pulse Energy, Lucid Design Group, and others seeking to break into the market for more efficient commercial building energy management systems, or demand response companies like EnerNOC that are buying their way into building efficiency [...]

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